Tagliatelli alla bolognese

Best Pasta Bolognese Recipes + History & Origins

In Italy the original traditional Bolognese sauce was and still today usually done with a flat spaghetti called tagliatelle, we call it “Tagliatelle Ragu alla Bolognese”. As the dish became more popular countries outside of Italy used spaghetti and is now known as “Spaghetti Alla Bolognese”.

A significant number of visitors usually focus their Italy visits on the watery city of Venice, an old city of Rome and around the historic, artistic & the beautiful town of Florence. While many people would love to spend some time drinking special wine in Tuscany’s rolling hills, very few would want to go to Bologna.

However, this narrative is now changing thanks to the broad variety of culinary choices that the city of Bologna guarantees. As more and more tourists continue to explore Bologna’s culinary prowess, this beautiful old city could yet become the best tourist attraction in Italy in the coming years. 

In fact, Bologna is one of the fewest cities in Italy where travelers can eat well & then board a train or a plane to almost anywhere in the city! Thanks to its strategic geographic location in the amazing Emilia Romagna, which is definitely Italy’s major food hub, Bologna boasts some of Italy’s best food and cuisine.

spaghetti with bolognese meat sauce

Though not considered an authentic Bolognese food dish, Spaghetti Bolognese has achieved lots of popularity worldwide. This particular cuisine dish is craved for & equally appreciated by both locals and the visitors who believe they are eating a traditional Italian food recipe. That being said, the Spaghetti Bolognese is actually not a native Italian food dish as most people believe. 

Origin of Bolognese Meat Sauce

In 1891 Pellegrino Artusi published a food recipe for a ‘ragù’ characterized as bolognese in his  recipe book. Artusi’s recipe, which he known as Maccheroni alla bolognese, is thought to derive from the mid 1900s when he spent quite some time in Bologna (maccheroni is a generic term for pasta, both dried & fresh.

The sauce called for mainly lean veal filet along with the fresh pancetta, butter, onion, & carrot. The meats and vegetables for this cuisine were to be finely minced, made with butter until the meat is browned, then it’s covered and cooked with broth. 

Artusi said that the taste of this dish could be made even pleasant by adding some pieces of dried mushroom, some slices of truffle, or some chicken liver cooked with the meat & diced. As a final touch, he also suggested including half a glass of fresh cream to the sauce when it was entirely done to make Spaghetti Bolognese taste even smoother. 

Artusi suggested serving this sauce with a small or medium size pasta (“horse teeth”) made from the organic durum wheat. The Bolognese pasta was to be made fresh, cooked until it was firm, & then flavored with some sauce and Parmigiano cheese.

pasta bolognese dish

Varieties of Bolognese Sauce Dishes

The numerous variations among the cuisine recipes for ‘ragù alla bolognese’ have led many people to search for the definitive, authentic food recipe. Some individuals have recommended the recipe registered by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina in the year 1982 is the most authentic recipe. 

However, this would be inconsistent with the academy’s own faith and statements about remaining faithful to tradition in documenting & preserving Italy’s culinary heritage. The Milan-born cook Mario Caramella said, “In Italy, there are many traditional food recipes of tagliatelle al ragù alla bolognese with more or less some slight variations”. 

According to the United Kingdom cookbook author & food writer Felicity Cloake, “The fact is that there is no definitive food recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese, but to be worthy of the name, it should respect the old traditions of the area”, a view which is consistent with that often expressed by the Italian Academy of food and Cuisine. 

 In Bologna and the Tuscan area, you’ll not be disappointed wherever you order a yummy pasta al ragù. They always taste great, but the flavours of the pasta can differ slightly, suggesting that there are probably a variety of recipes for Spaghetti Bolognese. 

What all the recipes have in common is that none of them come with spaghetti. In Bologna, the Bolognese sauce is mostly served with fresh tagliatelle, often with fettuccine or pappardelle. Though here in America people love to make it with spaghetti.

Best Pasta Bolognese Recipes (Meat Sauce)

Bolognese sauce is easy to make and many people have their own favorite versions, below are some of our top choices. Bolognese Sauce with pasta is a great dish that can be served on family gatherings. If you have a great bolognese sauce recipe of your own you can share a link or post the recipe in the comments. Enjoy!

meat sauce

Easy Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe
From World Food 4u: A very simple spaghetti bolognese recipe sent to us by chef Valerio in Rome Italy.. An easy and delicious traditional Italian dish.

Tagliatelle pasta dish with bolognese sauce

How Italians Make Bolognese Sauce At Home
From Vincenzo’s Plate: In this video Vincenzo does a fantastic job giving and explaining step by step instructions on how to make a real traditional bolognese sauce coupled with tagliatelle pasta.

tagliatelle bolognese dish

Killer Authentic Bolognese Sauce Straight From Italy
From Jamie Oliver: Chef Gennaro kicks it up a notch by adding pancetta (Italian bacon) in the bolognese sauce.. This recipe if done well will blow your taste buds away.

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